Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says he’s undecided on who will replace David Pocock after the star back-rower was ruled out of the rest of the England Test series due to injury.
Pocock suffered a fractured eye socket in Saturday night’s 39-28 series-opening loss at Suncorp Stadium and will miss the next six weeks.
The makeshift No.8 was replaced in the 69th minute in Brisbane under the blood rule but the team only received confirmation on the extent of the injury early on Sunday morning.
Cheika has a number of options at his disposal but has to decide whether he brings in a traditional No.8, like Wycliff Palu or Ben McCalman, or maintain the use of two openside flankers and promote Sean McMahon or Liam Gill.
“There’s options there that have experience in the frontline,” Cheika told reporters at Brisbane airport before the team’s departure to Melbourne for Saturday’s second Test at AAMI Park.
“We’re fortunate there, but at the same time disappointed to lose a player of David’s quality, the skills he brings to the game and that dynamic we have in the back-row with himself Michael and Scott.
“We’ll probably create a different type of complimentary nature now, or we could go like-for-like – once we have a look at the game again today as coaches, we’ll see what we want to go with and how we might want to play the game next Saturday.”
The savage blow of Pocock’s injury comes after lock Rob Simmons (lower back) and vice-captain Rob Horne (concussion) were both forced off the field in the first half.
Cheika said Simmons’ condition had improved and he would travel to Melbourne, but the Wallabies have a wealth of second-row back-up just in case.
“We’ve obviously got a few locks here,” he said.
“I’ve carried a couple extra because I’m keen to broaden the experience of the squad this series and that will be an opportunity if Rob doesn’t recover.”